Menalon, in the heart of Arcadia, is a mountain range, mostly housing forests of Greek fir and Crimean pine and a nature reserve under Natura 2000 network. Arcadia is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the homeland of the god Pan. In European Renaissance arts, Arcadia means utopia and Arcadian mountain Menalon was celebrated as an unspoiled, harmonious wilderness.
This 6-day hiking adventure will take you to the trails that unfold through the mountain, from the gorge of Lousios River to the western slopes of the valley of Mylaon River and the village of Vitina. Menalon trail is a soft hiking adventure suitable for everyone, in an area of great natural beauty and historical importance.
During our trip we will settle at cosy rustic hotels and guesthouses in small picturesque villages and taste authentic Greek cuisine. The program aims also to put participants close to the local way of living, motivating them to mingle with local communities. This is an important factor for the sustainable development of hiking tourism, one of the primary goals of Aegean Outdoors.
Easy, suitable for everybody with good physical condition.
Upon arrival to Athens or Kalamata airport you depart to Vitina village where you settle to your hotel. Evening meeting with our local guide in order to brief you and give you all necessary information for the following days.
After our mighty breakfast, meet our guide at your hotel’s lobby.
From the first day we are given the opportunity to enjoy one of the most spectacular places of the region starting from Stemnitsa, the village of goldsmiths, and ending in Dimitsana the village of watermills. These are two of the most important and picturesque settlements in Arcadia and in the Peloponnese in general. We will walk into a versatile environment with frequent alternation of landscapes. The major attractions we will encounter along our way, is the Monastery of Prodromos and the Philosophos Monastery dating to 963, as well as the imposing gorge of Lousios River completing a unique puzzle of man made monuments and natural beauties. We end our journey at the Open-Air Water Power Museum in Dimitsana, a place that highlights the importance of water power in traditional society. What an exciting first hiking day!!!
Distance: 12,5 Km’s – 7,7 Miles Time: 5 hours / Ascent: 825m – 2706ft Descent: 941m -3087ft / Min Height: 420m / 1377 ft Max Height: 1095m /3592 ft.
Starting from Dimitsana we cross the village passing by its most important buildings. We ascend gently arriving to the outskirts of the fir forest enjoying splendid views of the basin of Lousios river. Our route to the village of Zigovitsi follows a series of paths and dirt roads winding a plain of old fields, passing by the small monastery of St. Apostoli.
We arrive at Zigovitsi through a nice cobbled path that runs beside a series of threshing floors, another important element in traditional society.
After passing through the Immortals Memorial, the guard of Theodore Kolokotronis leader of the 1821 Rise against the Turks, we will educate ourselves about the battles, sacrifices and the heroes of the Greek independence War of 182, elements that have imbued this small yet historically significant village with a great sense of patriotic pride.
As we leave Zigovitsi, we will follow a trail heading through a beautiful ravine- continuing through some dirt road and an artificially reinforced footpath, ending to the Bourniades Spring. We then gradually ascend to Bilali Pass, an interesting “mixture” of old paths connecting Radou and Stemnitsa. From Bilali Pass we ascend to the peak of Pliovouni (1643m), the highest peak of this route and end our route, following a steep path, at the mountain settlement of Elati via the Vlachika Plateau.
Route Dimitsana – Zigovitsi
Distance: 4,2 Km’s – 2 Miles Time: 2 hours / Ascent: 256m -839 ft Descent: 61m – 200ft Min Height: 964 m / 3162 ft Max Height: 1174m /3851 ft.
Route Zigovitsi – Elati
Distance: 14,9 Km’s – 9 Miles Time: 5 hours / Ascent: 653m -2142ft Descent: -631m -2070ft /Min Height: 1109 m / 3638 ft Max Height: 1550m /5085ft.
We leave Elati back descending to the valley of the Milaon River where we will follow the riverside path. Our trail, partial a cobbled path and wooded path, leads us to springs where the villages of the western Mainalo are watered. Points that have been known since antiquity as this water never stopped flowing there since then. We continue on the old mulberry road linking the two villages walking into a section of riverine vegetation and plane trees, meeting the ruins of three watermills. We ascend to Vitina and its central square. Vytina is the major village of the area offering all the facilities and services.
After resting and provisioning, we leave Vytina and continue on the route leading to Nymphasia through the Old Vytina footpath that leads to Mavra Litharia, a massive limestone boulder in the riverbed of Milaon River, gut in half by the stream creating a short but impressive gorge. We then start descending to Tzavarenas’ bridge, a solid stone bridge that secured the connection between Vytina and rest of the western Gortynian villages. The trail gains altitude in a unique and impressive rocky landscape made of flysch covered with shrubs, reaching an altitude of 880 meters and wending horizontally towards Nymphasia, This small but lively satellite of Vitina will be the place of our overnight for today.
Elati – Vitina route:
Distance: 8,5 Km’s – 5,4 Miles Time: 2,5 hours / Ascent: 234m – 767ft Descent: -375m /1230 ft /Min Height: 918 m-3011ft Max Height: 1180m – 3871ft.
Vitina – Nymphasia route:
Distance: 5,6 Km’s – 3,4 Miles Time: 2 hours / Ascent: 235m – 770ft Descent: – 339m – 1112ft / Min Height: 813m / 2667 ft Max Height: 1041m/ 3415 ft.
Leaving Nymfasia back, the route enters a beautiful oak forest, descending to the bridge of the women’s monastery of Kernitsa, a large monastic complex with an abbey and ascetic houses nestled in an impressive monolith. Walking over a combination of cobble paths and dirt roads, we visit some of the ascetic houses that are built in fine spots of dense forest and fresh water springs. We continue on an old alley until we reach Magouliana, the highest inhabited village of Peloponnese at 1.275 m.
By leaving Magouliana we arrive at the intersection to Lasta, a great point of splendid views, surrounded by stone built threshing floors. We descend toward the old sanatorium, known as the Mana Sanatorium, through small footpaths and roads and reach another intersection of two asphalt roads across the church St. Pantes. The route leads down toward the valley along a river and continues along the riverbed through footpaths and small roads until the junction with another small river and a concrete bridge. The route continues to the left bank entering Kaminia, a nice small inner basin, tucked away at the foot of Valtesiniko. This is a good trail, once paved, that ascends to the mountain village of Valtesiniko (the woodcarvers village).
Nymphasia – Magouliana route:
Distance: 8,9Km/5,53 miles Time: 3,30 hours / Ascent: 660m Descent: -364m / Min Height: 781m/2562 ft Max Height: 1272m/4173 ft.
Magouliana – Valtetsiniko route:
Distance: 6,6Km/4,10miles Time: 2,30 hours /Ascent: 167 m/547 ft Descent: -301m/987ft / Min Height: 1019m/3343 ft Max Height: 1307m/4288 ft.
Our route starts from the square in Valtessiniko, passing next to the impressive stone-built school and climbing to the Byzantine Castle of the village. The view from here is magnificent, green meadows with walnut trees, poplars and a fir forest spread gently around. The next section of the route is in the fir forest until we reach the fields, which once cultivated with grain, and three stone-built well-preserved threshing floors, where the locals used to thrash their grains.
We descend to Lagadia, the village of the stone builders, passing by an old quarry where the sand mining of the Langadian stone craftsmen took place. We continue maneuvering, passing under an impressive watermill complex. The trail crosses meadows with low vegetation and passes near fragrant cedar trees.
We end up in Lagadia, a stone village that literally hangs on the cliff. This is the very end of our weeklong “Menalon Trail” hiking adventure. Later in the afternoon, we will transfer you back to Athens or Kalamata, or even take you to your next desired destination (feel free to ask us).
Distance: 13,9 Km/8,07 miles Time: 5 hours /Ascent: 596m -1955 ft Descent: 775m -2542ft / Min Height: 937 m/3074 ft Max Height: 1377 m/ 4517 ft.
Price is based on a minimum attendance of 4 people (for less or more participants, feel free to contact us).